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Chief’s Message

A little about me…

I started my adult life working as a garbage truck driver in Seattle, but it wasn’t long before I found myself drawn to the fire service. I IMG_3601 7started here at Skyway as a volunteer in 1991, back when we still responded from home. In fact, my first house was in Skyway, just off 70th and 125th. I thrived as a firefighter and was subsequently hired on for a career position. Later, I moved on to Everett Fire for a new opportunity and I ended up working there for 18 years. During this time, the love of my life kept her job at the Skyway Water & Sewer District (where she still works), so my ties to this community were never really cut.

Flash forward to 2017 and Skyway Fire found itself in need of a new Chief. Captain Tracy Wyckoff, an old friend from my volunteer days, called me up and asked me to apply. So I did, and here I am, back in the community that first introduced me to the fire service.

After my first few weeks as Chief, I started noticing that the building hadn’t changed much in the days since I had left for Everett… The same paint on the walls, the same carpet on the floors, the same rickety old tables in our conference room… so I decided to make updating this old building my primary focus.

With your support, we passed our latest tax levy and the work began. With the help of painters, carpet layers, and an asphalt crew, I took this old building and got it looking new again. You probably noticed the new paint job on the outside of Station 22... Would you believe it if I told you that a lot of our community members had no idea that our big old blue building was a fire station? Now, with the dark gray paint, beautiful red doors, and big KCFD #20 signs on the building, hopefully, that’s fixed. We definitely feel immense pride with the new colors, but we also realize that we are one of the main community hubs of West Hill, so these fixes weren’t just for us—they were for you too!

But there’s still much work to be done: updating outdated policies, replacing our 36-year-old breathing air support vehicle, and purchasing a new fire engine to reduce the wear and tear on our current rigs. I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.

 

A little about our department…

You may not know this, but we are a combination fire department. What that means is that some of our firefighters are paid career staff, and some are unpaid volunteers. Actually, more than half of our department is staffed by volunteers. Now, the word ‘volunteer’ has different meanings to different people, but to me it means selfless, giving, and dedicated. My volunteers are some of the best-trained volunteers in the area (if not the state), and I hold them to the same professional standards that I hold my career staff to.

Our volunteer firefighters are the heart of our department and you might be interested to know that they actually provide a huge benefit to our community. They allow us to have staffing levels far above what we’d be able to afford otherwise. Primarily, this allows for quicker response times, less expensive hospital transports, and more personnel on-scene in the early moments of a fire or CPR call when they are needed the most. They truly provide a tremendous service to our community and I cannot be more proud of them.

All of our career firefighters started here as volunteers and several even grew up in our community. All of them have administrative, maintenance, and training duties on top of their normal duties as firefighters. In other words, their workload is far higher than any career firefighter would have at a larger department. They work extremely hard at keeping this station running smoothly and this department definitely wouldn’t be what it is without them.

To wrap up, I’d just like to say that it is an honor to serve as Fire Chief of the very department where I started so very long ago, and I am overjoyed to lead such an exceptional team of firefighters, officers, and administrative staff. All of us here at King 20 are incredibly proud of our place in our community and we are happy to answer your calls for service anytime—even if there's a little of that Seattle rain or a lot of that West Hill snow. And you should know that I’m the kind of leader who refuses to be stuck behind a desk, so on some calls, you might even get to see me!

Thank you and be safe!

Eric Hicks

Fire Chief